The Eden Township Healthcare District and Sutter Health have called a ceasefire for the time being. The District announced Wednesday evening the sides have agreed to keep San Leandro Hospital in operation until pending litigation is complete. Sutter has also promised to continue construction of its $300 million rebuild of Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley.
FACILITY REMAINS SAFE FOR BETWEEN 6-24 MONTHS; EDEN GUARANTEED TO BE REBUILT
By Steven Tavares
“Eden Township Healthcare District and Sutter Health agreed that the activities would continue as usual, that is, San Leandro Hospital would continue to operate as an acute general hospital with an emergency department and the construction of the replacement hospital for Eden Hospital in Castro Valley would proceed as planned, during the process of resolution of the current litigation,” Eden Township Chair Carole Rogers said in a brief written statement.
Just how long the beleaguered community hospital remains safe is unknown. According to Eden Township Director Dr. Vin Sawhney it could take anywhere between six months and two years for the legal skirmish to be resolved. He called the announcement a “positive sign” and said “It ensures, at the least, the hospital will remain open for the time being,” said Sawhney.
The agreement punctuates the success of the District’s countersuit in luring the large Northern California health provider to the negotiating table after over a year of numerous threats to close San Leandro Hospital and lease it to the county for acute rehabilitation. The March countersuit against Sutter alleged various conflicts of interests in regards to some of the signers of the controversial agreement signed in 2008 which allowed Eden to be rebuilt, but also effectively put San Leandro Hospital’s future on shaky ground.
Aside from keeping San Leandro Hospital open indefinitely, the deal also quells anxiety Sutter would pull out of constructing the new facility in Castro Valley. Despite large-scale excavation and steel framing rising from the Lake Chabot Road site of the new hospital, a few including Director Dr. Rajendra Ratnesar and former Eden Township director Dr. Francisco Rico raised concerns that litigation by the board against Sutter would put its completion in serious jeopardy.
The deal taken from a June 16 executive session of the board and its counsel is similar to a report in The Citizen May 28 detailing a thaw in Sutter’s position towards San Leandro Hospital after the filing of the District’s countersuit. In the report, sources constructed a scenario where Sutter would continue operating the hospital in its current configuration while adding a multi-million dollar subsidy to a pool with other stakeholders including the District and county for up to five years. There is no word on any specifics attached to the deal announced Wednesday, but a source tells The Citizen that Sutter may be willing to increase its subsidy offer.